As a continuation of my previous blog post about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, I want to share the knowledge and personal experience that I had a few months ago. I had the opportunity of walking on the very property of an African female that endured the long ship along the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. While at a conference in October of last year, my colleagues and I explored a territory within history that we did not know existed. Following the advice of the museum directors at American Beach Museum, we journeyed to discover the story of Zephaniah and Anna Kingsley that had piqued our interests at American Beach, the first black owned beach in Florida.
Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley was from Senegal, Africa, and was purchased by Zephaniah Kingsley in Havana, Cuba in 1806. At the age of 18, Anna's life changed when in 1811 Zephaniah gave her freedom and she became his wife and business partner. To their union four children were born.
Anna oversaw the operations of approximately 60 slaves on Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island in Florida when Zephaniah was away tending to the other properties he owned. When Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821 the free rights that Anna and her children experienced were threatened. As a result, after being on Kingsley Plantation for 23 years, they moved to Haiti to start a new plantation on a tract of land called Mayorasgo de Koka. Zephaniah, Anna, and their two sons traveled along with many of their slaves to begin work on their new settlement. Slavery was prohibited in Haiti, so their slaves became indentured servants. Her two daughters stayed in Florida with their husbands.
After Zephaniah died in 1843, his white family members contested his will by stating that Anna and her children should not receive the inheritance stated in Zephaniah's will because they were black, but the courts ruled in Anna's favor because the will stated that he wrote it with a sound mind. Anna Kingsley died in 1870, and her memory lives on through the National Park Service's preservation of Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island in Jacksonville, Florida.
The feelings that I felt while journeying from the slave quarters, to the fields, the kitchen, barn, and to the slave owner's house were of mixed emotions. I was excited to be there and see the plantation in its original layout, but I was also saddened to imagine the despair, torture, and inhumane treatment that the slaves experienced on that very land.The descriptive placards at each display/area created a sense of realness that I had never felt at a museum at that point in time. This is an experience that I will partake of again in the near future, and I recommend that you visit as well.
For more information or to plan your trip to Kingsley Plantation, visit http://www.nps.gov/timu/planyourvisit/index.htm.
Information source: http://www.nps.gov/timu/historyculture/kp_anna_freewoman.htm
Pictures taken by: Lynn Mallory